BY ISAIAH BENJAMIN, Kaduna
The Federated Kurama Association of Akurmi Chiefdom in Lere Local Government area of Kaduna State has kicked against plans by the state government to restructure chiefdoms and emirates in the state.
The President of the Association, Mr Dauda Barau, said at a press conference in Kaduna that the propose plan to restructure existing chiefdoms and emirate based on town or location would be counter-productive.
Barau equally express fear that the move would likely spark protest and create serious security challenge in the state.
“The attention of the Kurama nation has been drawn to a six-man committee set up by the Kaduna State Government to review the existing chieftaincy system in the State.
“The committee, headed by the Commissioner, Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Ja’afaru Sani has the following term of reference.
“To examine the existing nomenclature of the graded chiefs which emphasizes ethnic identity and propose new ones based on town/location of the chiefdom taking due cognisance of the historical antecedents of the chiefdom.
“Study the cultural affinities, long standing historical antecedents and other peculiarities of the people within a chiefdom/emirate and advice on possible regrouping.
“Propose alternative system of boundary delineation between Emirates/Chiefdoms in the state to mitigate the incidence of incessant boundary disputes.
“Advise on the possibility of placing the staff of District and Village Administration under the control and supervision of the Local Government Service Commission to guarantee their career progression in the service.
“And advise on ways to improve the operations of the traditional Institution in the State to restore its glory and esteem amongst the people, “Barau said.
He added that the committee was given six weeks to conclude its assignment and submits its report for immediate action.
According to him, the review could be used to either abolish or place chiefdoms like that of Akurmi under an arrangement that makes us subservient to another ethnic group.
“This is because the committee has not make any attempt to consult and engage extensively with stakeholders or call for memorandum to get citizens input.
“This leaves us with one conclusion, that the committee was set up just to fulfill formalities, but the aim and outcome of the review has been pre-determined.
“We equally observed that the composition of the six-man committee lacks the competence to adequately understand the diverse and complex historical antecedents, cultural affinities and other peculiarities of the Chiefdoms.
“Moreso, the ethnic and religious imbalance of the committee also robs it of the impartiality it requires to objectively and fairly advise the government on matters as complex as sensitive as this”.
The President pointed out that the proposed action contravenes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).
He noted that Article 8 (1) states that “Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture”.
“Section 8 (2) further requires the state to provide effective mechanism for prevention of any action that may deprive ethnic nationalities their integrity as distinct peoples or their cultural values or ethnic identities.
“In our case, unfortunately, the state is out to do the contrary, “he added.
On the issue of boundary disputes, Barau pointed out that since the creation of Chiefdoms by the Ahmed Makarfi-led Government in 2001, there has been no major land dispute in any part of the state.
“We, therefore, call on the Government of Kaduna State to maintain the present status-quo of Chiefdoms and Emirates in the State, as they reflect our historical heritage and pride as distinct people, “he added.
A document obtained from the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy, Affairs, signed by Abdullahi Sani, Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Affairs and Special Service had the following as members of the committee:
Ibrahim Hussain, Director General, Kaduna State Geographic Information Service, Chris Umar, Solicitor General/Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice and Ibrahim Sambo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Rural and Community Development.
Others are, Aisha Dikko, Special Adviser on Legal Matters to Gov Nasir El-Rufai and Stephen Joseph, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
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BY ISAIAH BENJAMIN, Kaduna